Against the Current 186

— The Editors
ON NOVEMBER 8, some 135 million U.S. voters chose between the two least popular capitalist party candidates in the country’s modern history.  By a margin of close to 2.7 million votes — concentrated, to be sure, in huge majorities in California and New York — they opted for the choice that seemed less frightening, if hardly inspiring. She did not, however, win the election. By virtue of a relic of slavery-era federalism called the Electoral College and narrow victories in...
— Malik Miah
“We fight for our collective liberation because we are clear that until black people are free, no one is free.” — from Black Lives Matter statement after Donald Trump’s election
SO MUCH HAS been written about why Donald Trump won the presidency and the anger of the white working class. White supremacists are overjoyed by his victory. White Americans who believed that they had suffered so-called “reverse discrimination” from Blacks, Latinos and undocumented...
OUR MANDATE HAS not changed: organize and end all state-sanctioned violence until all Black Lives Matter.
What is true today — and has been true since the seizure of this land — is that when black people and women build power, white people become resentful. Last week, that resentment manifested itself in the election of a white supremacist to the highest office in American government.
In the three years since Black Lives Matter organized, we’ve called for more safety. Not less....
— ain interview with Rebecca Kemble
REBECCA KEMBLE IS an alder (representative) on the Madison, Wisconsin Common Council. She organized the Council to pass a unanimous resolution on September 20, 2016 expressing solidarity with the Indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Rebecca and her husband travelled to deliver the petition to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II. They were at Standing Rock for three days. She spoke with David Finkel from the ATC editorial board on November 23 about what...
— Gayatri Kumar
“WATER VERSUS OIL: life versus death:”(1) Across Canada, Indigenous peoples continue to resist Canada’s ongoing disregard for treaty rights and the subjugation of environmental welfare to capitalist extractivism. The brutal suppression of water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota and their ongoing resistance has also galvanized Canadian conversations about Indigenous land rights and environmental welfare.
Many non-Indigenous Canadians have stood in solidarity with...
RASMEA ODEH, THE Palestinian community activist in Chicago who was convicted in 2015 for “fraudulent procurement of naturalization” when she obtained her U.S. citizenship in 2004, has won a new trial. (For some background on the case and trial, see
This is an important victory for Odeh and her defense team, who successfully argued on appeal that the Federal Judge Gershwin Drain hadn’t properly considered the admissibility of testimony about...
— Dan Clawson & John Fitzgerald
FOUR YEARS AGO, corporate “reformers” came after public education and teachers unions and found that the leadership of the Massachusetts Teachers Association was unwilling or unable to fight. The result was the end of seniority for teachers in Massachusetts.
Emboldened by their success, the same forces once again came after what are widely acknowledged to be the best schools in the country, and the teachers who work in them, with an attempt to lift the cap on charter schools. This...
— Robert Bartlett
AFTER MORE THAN a year without a contract, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members voted by 14,388 to 5,585 in favor of a proposal reached hours before a strike. (For an account of the runup to the last-minute settlement, see from our previous issue, ATC 185.)
While an almost 3-1 vote in favor is decisive, the vote against is significant in showing both dissatisfaction and anger among teachers. Who voted against the contract?
One group campaigning against...
— Angela D. Dillard
IN FALL 2016, the University of Michigan officially rolled out its strategic plan for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), an initiative over a year in the making and aimed at creating an equitable and inclusive environment for all students, faculty and staff.
Over the course of the year of campus-wide DEI-plan making, the Ann Arbor institution has become an especially compelling target for bigotry and racism in the now famously toxic atmosphere that led up to and has continued after the...
ON MONDAY MORNING, September 26, students arrived to the U-M campus to find racist flyers plastered in Haven Hall, Mason Hall, and several other buildings. University leadership quickly issued a clear statement that, in the words of President Schlissel, “Messages of racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination have no place at the University of Michigan.”
These flyers, posted widely and anonymously are neither isolated to the Univer­sity of Michigan nor represent new ways of...
WE STAND WITH the hundreds of students who have organized in protest to condemn the recent anti-Black flyers circulated on U-M’s campus by the Alt Right group,, and the racist KKK graffiti found on EMU. We stand against white supremacy, scientific racism, and all forms of racism and discrimination. We want to underscore that Black students and colleagues are integral members of this campus community and make vital contributions to the life of the institution.
We want to...
— Sam Friedman
THERE IS A growing suspicion among many people involved in movements against war, for social justice, and for an ecologically sustainable society that capitalism can only create a world of war, injustice and environmental destruction. There is widespread and growing understanding that the current social order cannot continue without catastrophe occurring —yet we lack a vision of what might replace it.
Karl Marx wrote relatively little about what he saw as a viable post-capitalist society....
— Karin Baker
I READ PLENTY of articles, short and long, on all sorts of topics, but — I hesitate to mention this to ATC readers — I rarely read full length nonfiction books. But those by Michael A. Lebowitz, including his recent The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now (Monthly Review Press, 2015), have been an easy exception. It is a pleasure and a relief to read theory that has such practical application to the questions socialists must address in our work to transform the world.
While not...
— Kim Moody
THE MEDIA STORY in the days following the 2016 election was that a huge defection of angry, white, blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt from their traditional Democratic voting patterns put Donald J. Trump in the White House in a grand slap at the nation’s “liberal” elite. But is that the real story?
While he didn’t actually win the popular vote, Trump did carry the majority (58%) of white voters. Furthermore, he won the key “battleground” states in the Rust...
— Howie Hawkins
THE POLITICAL DYNAMIC augured well for a progressive third party challenge in 2016. With the two most unpopular major party candidates in history, and a large progressive vote mobilized for Sanders in the Democratic primaries, hopes were high that the Greens could do much better, perhaps reaching five percent or more to secure general election federal funding for the 2020 Green presidential campaign.
But lacking a large, well-organized membership base to provide local legs for the campaign and a...
— Howie Hawkins
THE STEIN-BARAKA TICKET tripled the Green Party presidential vote from 2012 to nearly 1.4 million, or 1.0%. That is up from 469,627 votes (0.4%) in 2012 but still well below Ralph Nader’s 2.9 million (2.7%) in 2000.
The campaign kept aloft the banners for popular progressive reforms that both corporate parties reject, including a job guarantee, single-payer health care, 100% renewable energy by 2030, free public college and student debt relief, police demilitarization, a scaled-down...
— Chris Maisano
DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION shocked me and all of my comrades. While a Trump win was never outside the realm of possibility, all signs pointed to a close but decisive victory for Hillary Clinton. She never trailed in national polls, seemed to have a built-in advantage in key battleground states, and enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the ruling class.
These advantages, plus the widespread revulsion at Trump’s open racism and misogyny, would have propelled Clinton to the White...
— Jeff Wilson
Trump: A Graphic Biography
By Ted Rall
Seven Stories Press, $16.95 paper.
The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “state of emergency” in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the...
— Alice Ragland
“I’M NOT ANTI-POLICE, I’m anti-police brutality.”
I’ve heard this phrase or some variation of it from Beyoncé, Al Sharpton, Marilyn Mosby, and countless activists who feel the need to clarify the fact that their condemnation of police brutality does not mean they are anti-police.
I have even made this statement a few times while talking to people about my reasons for being active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. That was before I realized that policing is...
— Derrick Morrison
The Slave’s Cause
A History of Abolition
By Manisha Sinha
Yale University Press, 2016, 784 pages, $25 paper.
“‘Our Country is the World — Our Countrymen are Mankind’ was the motto that adorned the Liberator’s masthead from 1831 to 1865. As [William Lloyd] Garrison’s adoption of Thomas Paine’s slogan indicated, abolitionists, especially Garrisonians, developed a transnational appeal seeking to harness progressive international forces against...
— Jennifer Jopp
Confronting Black Jacobins:
The United States, the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic
By Gerald Horne
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015, 424 pages, $29 paper.
READERS OF AGAINST the Current will no doubt have long suspected that the traditional history of the United States in no way accounts for its complexities. And for someone whose original copy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States long ago fell apart, new revelations of duplicity...
— Prudence Cumberbatch
Managing Inequality:
Northern Racial Liberalism in Interwar Detroit
By Karen R. Miller
New York, NY: NYU Press, 2014, 331 pages, cloth, $55, paper, $28.
KAREN MILLER’S MANAGING Inequality: Northern Racial Liberalism in Interwar Detroit provides a critical intervention in the literature on the origins of “colorblind racism” by identifying this idea as present in the contestations over race in Detroit in the years between the two World Wars.
Miller uses the interpretive paradigm...
— Michael Löwy
Facing the Anthropocene:
Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System
By Ian Angus
Monthly Review Press, 280 pages, $19 paper.
Green Capitalism:
The god that failed
By Richard Smith
World Economics Association,, 115 pages, $21.50 paper.
CRITICAL ECOLOGY PUBLI­CA­TIONS are finding a growing audience in the United States, as is evident in the success of Naomi Klein’s  book This Changes Everything. Within this field there is also...
— Ursula McTaggart
The Anarchist Cookbook
By Keith McHenry with Chaz Bufe
See Sharp Press: Tucson, 2015, 154 pages, $19.85 paper.
LABOR NOTES PUBLISHES its Troublemaker’s Handbook series as a practical guide to bottom-up union organizing. Keith McHenry and Chaz Bufe’s The Anarchist Cookbook, released by the anarchist See Sharp Press in 2015, envisions itself as a similar text — a manual that belongs on the shelf of any committed activist.
McHenry is a long-time activist who co-founded prominent...